Audience Studies, Inc. (ASI) -
Begun in 1966, ASI, (formerly Audience Studies, Inc.) began as
program research division of Columbia Pictures that was designed to
determine whether a prospective television program wwould be popular
and whether the storylines/cast members will have audience appeal.
Their original Hollywood "Preview House" was built to hold 400
The evaluation process is simple. Each visitor is allow free
access to new program ideas (motion pictures, TV pilots, ads,
exchange, they are are given access to a dial to manipulate as they
watch a program, then they are asked to fill out forms providing
basic information on
their age, sex, education and income.
ASI tests about 150 pilots a year at a cost of $20,000 to it
clients ($40,000 for cable shows).
While viewing the potpourri of programming, participants
operate a dial (plus or minus) which indicates their pleasure or
displeasure ) with what they were watching. The resulting gathered
information helps production studios determine whether a specific
new series pilot will sink or swim on television.
According to ASI's Chief Executive Officer David Castler, the
goal of pilot testing is not just to see if viewers laugh at a
sitcom or engage in a drama. The goal is to fix what's wrong, if
possible, and improve what's good. If a particular character makes
the dials spin to minus, that character can be rewritten or recast.
If a joke falls flat, it can be reworked. It's that "tweakability"
factor clients are after.
Although prescreening attempts to gauge the popularity
of a pilot, it doesn't always work. For example, the sitcom ALL IN
THE FAMILY, received terrible negatives but became a long-running,
ground-breaking series. The same misdiagnosis happened with the now
classic sitcom SEINFELD.
ASI is based in the Los Angeles area with
screen rooms located in the Academy of Television Arts &
Sciences. Roy Morgan Research acquired ASI in 1985.
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